Thank you from Baby Bank Network
October 24, 2015
The Dungarees – My powerful moment with Baby Bank Network
November 7, 2015

“Volunteering with Baby Bank Network has reignited my passion for

donating my time to help others”.
With Baby Bank Network being a charitable cause we rely heavily on the good will of not only all the

lovely people who donate their preloved baby items but also on our small team of volunteers.  I have

been a social media team member since attending the very first meeting back in June this year,

working between 4 and 10 hours a week.

I’ve been volunteering in one form or another since I was a little girl.  I can remember many a wet

Saturday afternoon being spent with my Dad and Brother, going around knocking on doors and

asking for jumble sale donations to sell at the local Cub Scout event.  Little did I realise that this

would become the foundation for my volunteering passion later in life.
volunteers
When I was a teenager, I volunteered once a week as part of my Duke of Edinburgh award.  I never

completed all the different parts needed to collect any of the awards but because I enjoyed it so

much, for 2 years I visited the local Manor Cheshire home and helped feed the residents their

Sunday lunch.  It was here that I learnt to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and how

to communicate with severely disabled people.  It also helped me realise that I wanted a caring

career and I eventually became a qualified Physiotherapist 8 years later.

Why Baby Bank?

Now that I have a job which takes care of my caring side (and having two lovely children) I had been

feeling that I wanted to do something more with my maternity leave this time round.  So when I saw

that a friend had shared an invitation to go to the first Baby Bank volunteering meeting I became

excited.  Maybe this is what I had been looking for?  It was a volunteering opportunity that really

struck a chord with me.  Helping babies and families to have the best start in life, by taking some of

the financial burden away.  After becoming a Mum again, this time to a boy, I suddenly had a huge

surplus of baby girl clothes to give away.  I gave some to friends (who in turn gave me some of their

boys clothing) but there was still a lot left.  Most of it was good quality but by selling them I knew I

wouldn’t get back a fraction of what they cost, so I wanted to pass them on to someone who

wouldn’t be able to afford new or charity shop items.  The birth of a baby into a family should be the

most special time in a parent’s life but for some the financial cost is too much.  This charity made

sense, donating preloved baby items that had been worn but not worn out and giving them to

families who can’t afford the basics most of us take for granted which would hopefully make

bringing a new baby into the world that little bit easier.

home sort

So I turned up to the meeting and took my seat.  As I listened to the founders of Baby Bank talk

about their vision and their plea for volunteers I knew it was something that I had to be a part of,

this exciting cause that was just starting out.  That day, when they asked for social media volunteers,

I stuck my hand up.  I knew how to use Facebook and thought it would give me a guilt free reason to

use it.  It was also something I knew I could fit in around my toddler and growing baby.  We were

given a training session and then it was up to us to make it happen.  Scary and exciting all rolled into

one.  Although I thought I knew how to use Facebook (I did but on a personal level), helping to

manage the Facebook account for a new charitable organisation was a whole different ball game.    It

has been a steep learning curve since my first post but the skills I have gained (not just on Facebook)

I know will help me with my future ventures and career plans.  I have also made friends,  connected

to more like minded people and my passion for volunteering has been reignited.  I’m hooked; not

only do I do help out with their social media on Facebook but I have also sorted baby items at home,

helped out at events and have done a few trips picking up items from donators and events to take to

our storage.  I feel like a valued member of the team, having the opportunity to put forward ideas

into the running of the organisation is amazing.

Here’s why some of our other volunteers joined Baby Bank.

By joining the team Laura our press officer has been able to utilise her existing PR skills from her day

job and use her contacts to spread the Baby Bank word.

Making a real difference

As soon as I spotted Baby Bank Network online, I knew I had to be involved. As well as donating

stuff I got the magazine I worked for to write an article and offered to put together a press release

and send it out to my contacts. I knew it wouldn’t take long and would make a big difference in

getting the word out. From there, I volunteered to be the press and publicity officer. I’d love to do

more – website, social media, digital marketing etc. but working full time in these fields elsewhere

and having a toddler it’s not possible. Looking after the press side of things allows me to support

campaigns and push key messages but doesn’t require my input every day in the way that some

roles might. It fits in around my paid work and family life (just) and feels great to be part of a team

making a real difference.”

sorting

Meeting people with common values.

Ellen, our fantastic warehouse coordinator started volunteering after a chat with her friend.

“When a friend of mine told me how she was involved in Baby Bank Bristol, I realised that perhaps

the spare time I had available to me one morning a week could be put to good use and so I quickly

became involved. Due to the flexible nature of the help required by Baby Bank, I am now able to

contribute whenever I have spare time which is convenient to me – evenings, the occasional

weekend, even a few minutes promoting the cause on social media – and in many different ways

from the help which I originally offered. From working with other volunteers I’ve met people from a

wide variety of career backgrounds, at different stages of their parenting journey and with a huge

pool of skills but with one thing in common – we all believe in what Baby Bank has been set up to

achieve and we want to make it happen. It’s actually a very straight-forward concept, one for which

there is a huge need in Bristol but which relies on a network of flexible volunteers. I for one love

being involved in the Baby Bank ‘family’ and there is no better feeling than knowing that your

contribution, no matter how big or small, is making a difference to a vulnerable human being and

their own family”.

Finding a cause that offers flexible working.

Becky our donation events coordinator has found working for Baby Bank so easy to fit in around her

family.

 “Having decided not to return to work following maternity leave I was keen to get my teeth into a

project which I could really make a difference with. Baby Bank really fits the bill for me. As well as

being a cause I feel passionate about, the volunteering I do is as much or as little as I choose and

completely works around my little boy.

I do a lot of clothes sorting as this is something that I can do from home which doesn’t require the

car and which doesn’t impact on my little boy.  I actually find it very therapeutic sitting in front of the

TV in the evening sorting out baby clothes! It is methodical and pleasing.

I am also involved in the actual packing up of referrals which I find immensely rewarding. It is a bit

like wrapping Christmas presents for me as I find myself thinking about the person who will receive

the package and imagine what kind of difference it will make to their life.

Volunteering for Baby Bank is something I love and would strongly urge others to get involved in!”

 
“Gaining new skills for my CV”

One of our other social media team members Caroline, joined out of a want to help others but has

found that by volunteering she is also getting something back from the experience.

“Following the birth of my son I was conscious that I didn’t want to lose touch with life outside of my

new family. I found out about Baby Bank Network and was inspired by what it was trying to achieve

and as a new mum could empathise with the families that it was supporting. It’s been great to get

involved as it’s establishing and there are so many ways to get involved that can fit in and around

times to suit me which is really good with a small baby. It’s been really rewarding to see how BBN is

growing, to be part of a team and to see the impact that we are making. I’ve also gained some great

new skills and have something else to add my CV.”

Volunteering

So it’s no coincidence that this week’s blog is about volunteering.  With the promise of new, larger

premises on the horizon and the number of weekly referrals rapidly increasing as word spreads, the

next thing we need to concentrate on is increasing our volunteer base.  With only 32 core and 10 ad-

hoc members we are desperately in need of more.

Myself, Laura, Ellen, Becky and Caroline have all been able to do this by working flexibly, fitting it in

around our work, family and social commitments.  There are a huge variety of roles, with many

being very flexible in nature.  Most of us have babies who have become part of the team, coming

down to Big Yellow Storage whilst we sort clothes and pack up referrals.  Other team members older

children have really enjoy helping out too with jobs such as buggy washing and sorting soft toys out

at home.

by sort

Opportunities

Currently we are in need of a web designer and an email marketer, both of which can mainly be

done from home needing 1-2 days a month.

A role on the social media team can also be carried out remotely for as little as a few minutes a day

to a couple of hours a week.  Our small team is working across a number of different platforms

including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest.  If you have the skills or a love for any of these

we would be glad to hear from you.

Fundraising is another role that can be flexible.  This could be a one off event such as a bake sale at

work, home or school or a clothes swap party.  It could be on a regular basis helping us coordinate

fundraising events.  Or for those of you who like a challenge, how about doing a sporting event and

raising sponsorship for Baby Bank Network?  Our lovely volunteer Natalie recently ran the Bristol

Half Marathon and raised over £400.

We would also like to build up a pool of volunteers that we can call upon to do ad-hoc collections

and drop offs.  This would enable us to do things like pick up donations from people who don’t have

access to a car or get electrical items PAT tested (at the moment we are having to turn down some

donations!).

The list of roles and skills needed is literally never ending, if you would like to volunteer or think you

may have skills that we could use please get in touch with Georgina our volunteer’s coordinator at

volunteers@babybanknetwork.com.  It is only with more volunteers that we will be able to realise

our vision and roll out our pilot scheme across the rest of the city, enabling Baby Bank Network to

help more families in need.